ART NOUVEAU JEWELRY
Sensous, feminine and organic
Jewelry was one of the purest, and most successful, expressions of Art Nouveau style, using sensuous organic forms to create a vast range of objects of exceptional beauty and inventiveness.
In 1893, greatly influenced by the ideas of William MORRIS, a young Belgian Architect Victor HORTA, began to plan the first important house to be built in Art Nouveau Style: la Maison Tassel.
Two year later in 1895, in Paris, the pioneer city of so many world affecting art forms, the name of the Movement , Art Nouveau, was finally settled in the French language. In particular because of the art gallery "La Maison de l'Art Nouveau", which was opened as a showroom for the new art by a Japanese art collector, Siegfried Bing.
All the Art Nouveau artists were largely reacting against the Classic aesthetic, a style described as often "fussy and inhibited." They found a freeing vocabulary in natural and organic forms. The movement's signature motif was the S-curve, which might be found in a flower's stem on a brooch or the trail of smoke from a cigarette depicted in a theater poster.
The Art Nouveau artists were not shy about the naked body, contrary to their predecessors, and the Art Nouveau style is often described as a feminine one. But some Art Nouveau was also geometric as the forms designed by the WIENER WERKSTäTTE and Josef HOFFMANN.
All Art Nouveau Jewelry Collections
As with architecture, the Art Nouveau Jewelers exeprimented with new forms, new materials and new techniques as the final objective was the originality and beauty of the jewel, not only the intrinsic value of the materials used.
The Art Nouveau style affected all the Jewelry pieces: rings, brooches, necklaces, pendants, bracelets were made in Art Nouveau style but also cufflinks, hatpins, haircombs, belt buckles, tiaras, diadems, and theatrical head or corsage ornaments.
The leading Art Nouveau jewelers, Louis Comfort TIFFANY, Karl Fabergé, René Lalique, Philippe WOLFERS and Georges Fouquet, among others, created extraordinarily beautiful and original jewels inspired by natural and mythological themes: enchanted women, mythical beasts, superb insects and exotic flowers were all common motifs.
Also the most common production followed the Great Art Nouveau Masters and would change the Jewelry world.
and plique-a-jour (in which the backing metal is removed from the translucent enamel after firing, resulting in a stained glass effect). Many times a craftsman would combine the use of different methods of enameling on the same piece as this effect gave Art Nouveau jewelry a distinctive appearance much like a three dimensional painting.
As mentionned, apart from traditional silver, gold, diamonds and the like, New Materials were used as the semi-precious stones like moonstone, opal, amethyst, citrine and peridot. On the other side, also natural materials like: baroque pearls, coral, mother pearl, freshwater pearls, tortoise shell, ivory and horn were very popular but also poorer materials as copper, crystal and carved glass.
On the technical side, the Art Nouveau saw the great use of beautiful Enameling Techniques in jewelry, such as cloisonné (in which gold wire forms partitions into which the enamel is poured); champlevé (in which the enamel fills recesses cut out from the background metal); basse-taille (in which an engraved design in the metal is covered with, but still visible through, a transparent enamel);
The Art Nouveau Jewelry Motifs were quite different:
- Natural Motifs:
The Victorian and Classical interest in the natural world continued into this era. Butterflies, dragonflies, snakes, poppies, orchids, irises and waterlilies were prevalent motifs but even bats were represented ! On the vegetal side, exotic plants were very succesfull as the Ginkgo Biloba tree leaf or the orchid flowers but also lilies, irises, ferns and ivy were very popular.
- Asian Influence:
As one of the principal sources of inspiration to Art Nouveau artists, the Asian approach to Nature was to influence the new style where the organic motifs were not rendered realistically, but rather in a more stylized manner characteristic of the Asian arts. Sinuous, free-flowing lines were integral design elements.
Turn-of-the-century uncertainty fostered a sense of mystery and fantasy in design. Accordingly, Art Nouveau jewelry often features mythical hybrid forms and near-colorless translucent stones like moonstone and opal.
- Feminine Motif:
Long haired, scantily clothed women, often portrayed as nymphs or mermaids, were a popular theme for Art Nouveau artists as the posters of Czech artist Alphons Mucha, who worked in Paris during the Art Nouveau period, provide good examples of these types of female forms.
- "Art Nouveau Jewelry" by Vivienne Becker, First published 1998, ISBN 0500 280789 ; 30.3 x 22.6 cm ; Paperback ; 240pp ;456 illustrations, 156 in colour,214 makers' marks.
- "Art Nouveau Jewellery and Metalwork" Trewin Copplestone,
published: December 1998, Sandstone Publishing, ISBN: 1865050369; Hardback; 64 pages.
- "The Art Nouveau Style in Jewelry, Metalwork, Glass, Ceramics, Textiles, Architecture & Furniture" by Roberta Waddell, published 1977, Dover Publications, Paperback, ISBN: 0486235157.
- "305 Authentic Art Nouveau Jewellery Designs" by Maurice Dufrene, published 1985, Dover Publications, Paperback, ISBN: 0486249042.
- "The Paris Salons 1895-1914: Jewellery: the Designers" by Alastair Duncan, 2 Volumes, published 1995, Antique Collectors' Club, hardcover, ISBN: 1851491597.
- "Art Nouveau Fantasy Animal Jewelry Designs" by B. Krieger, published 1997, Dover Publications, ISBN: 0486296318, 64 pages.
- "Art Nouveau Jewelry : A Practical Guide to Its History and Beauty, with Pictures of over 150 Pieces of Jewelry and a Compendium of International Jewelers' Marks" by Joseph Sataloff, Dorrance, published 1984, ISBN: 0805929150, 126 pages.
-"Christie's Twentieth-Century Jewellery" by Sally Everitt & David Lancaster, Pavillon, published 2002, ISBN: 1862053154, 192 pages.
Art Nouveau Jewelry, Jewellery and Jewery Links:
-History of 20th century Jewelry: very well illustrated with paragraphs by country.
-All About Jewels: with a very complete and clear illustrated dictionary and glossary.
-Jewelry expert: another illustrated introduction to Art Nouveau Jewelry.
-History of Art Nouveau Jewelry: clear with a lot of photos.
-Origins of Art Nouveau Jewellery: a good presentation of Art Nouveau Jewelry and Jewelers.
-Jewels of René LALIQUE: superb and complete.
-Jewels of Philippe WOLFERS: an illustraded paper on the Belgian Art Nouveau Jeweler (only in Dutch).
-Philippe WOLFERS's orchid hair ornament (1902): an incredible jewel made of gold, enamel, diamonds and rubies.
-René LALIQUE: Dragonfly Woman corsage ornament (1897): an inventive jewel made of gold, enamel, chrysoprase, moonstones, and diamonds.
-Joeria Art Nouveau: very well illustrated Spanish page.